Travel between Dallas and Houston may be getting a lot easier…
Often referred to as Texas’ first female governor, Ann Richards once famously said that it wasn’t until she campaigned in the Lone Star State that she gathered an accurate notion of its size, which is equivalent to pretty much the whole of central Europe. The point I’m trying to paint: the place is big; so big, in fact, that commuting between Houston and Dallas – two of the state’s most prominent metros – is a grueling 3 hour-plus drive…one way. To drive round trip in a day is a feat nearing herculean, and it’s because of these astounding drive times that Texas Central Railway is proposing a state of the art, high-speed bullet train rail system that would link the two cities.
The plan, initially set forth by a private party and their Japanese partner, would see the face of transportation in Texas change, and if successful, so might eventually go the nation. The proposed rail system, which is currently making its way through a rigorous environmental approval process, would make commuting between the two cities somewhat of a breeze, cutting travel times in half. Once built, one-way trips from Houston to Dallas would be cut down to 90 minutes – only 25 minutes slower than by plane.
A Ferry for Business
Traveling at speeds upwards of 205 mph, the train would be an economical substitute to flight; and with Texas Central Railway estimating 68 daily trips between the two cities, the rail line would open up a rash of new possibilities, particularly in the way of commerce as the company says the trains primary function will be “business travel.” Workers who might not have ever considered commuting would now have a viable option that didn’t mean effectively living in two places.
If the rail proves successful, Texas Central Railway has hinted at the possibility of extending the system, building tributary rail lines to both San Antonio and Austin. Though, no plans are currently in the works – at least publically.
Right now, the biggest hurdle to the rail system’s construction is its environmental impact. However, the land on which the line is planned has already been reserved for transportation, which means the impact to landowners would be minimal.
Pending approval, which the company seems confident about, the bullet train rail line is expected to begin service by 2021.
As a REALTOR who works and lives in the area, I take issue with the sentence: “However, the land on which the line is planned has already been reserved for transportation, which means the impact to landowners would be minimal”. The impact to landowners in the neighborhoods surrounding the proposed routes is tremendous, with a long list of potential effects ranging from structural problems from the vibration to a decline in property values by an estimated $10,000-$15,000 with the MERE MENTION of this High Speed Rail (HSR) coming through the neighborhood. I would recommend a follow-up article incorporating facts and concerns from the neighborhoods surrounding the proposed routes. The meetings addressing the HSR have been standing room only (and some have turned attendees away) with some VERY CONCERNED citizens. This is an issue that could affect our neighborhoods and the REALTORS who work in those areas.
Similar trains in Europe that provide service from country to country have proven to be successful——-why not Texas. Noise from an Environmental effect can be resolved. As to commuting trains within Houston, BART in San Francisco has been highly successful. It allows an easy commute and takes autos off of the highways.
Having been a full time Houston Realtor for 38 years, I can tell you that there is no way to deal with the commuter problem with continued widening of freeways. I have witnessed the unending construction on our major thoroughfares. We simply cannot keep up with the growth and continue to think we can only have cars and buses to solve our transportation problems. Larger cities than Houston have used commuter trains for years. Even our former wonderful mayor who opposed commuter trains later said he was probably wrong on that one issue.
I have not noticed that Spring Valley or Hedwig Village have actually gone down in value because of the noise from I-10. In fact, the opposite has been true.
We need to think outside the old box and commuter trains are the way to go in this Realtor’s opinion.